Beginners Weight Training Routine

Beginners weight training

Welcome to the beginners weight training routine, age or gender does not matter in weight training. If you set a goal, do the exercises properly and find ways to stay motivated and love what you do, weight training will grow on you, being as Dynamic as you can is what it's all about.

As a beginner starting out, everything is new this can be a little intimidating at first. Entering a gym seeing new faces and looking at all the different machines and weight equipment can seem hopeless in learning how to use them all...

Most of us have been in this position, as we were beginners once  ourselves, this article is going to help take a lot of guess-work out of weight training at this early stage.

Before we get too far along in the beginner’s weight training routine/article, most gyms have some rules and lifting etiquette, so lets try to keep in mind...

§  Try to respect your gym and the people that you workout next to, replace plate weight’s, dumbbells, barbells, leaving each machine in the same state you founded it in.

§  Often beginners even intermediates make this common mistake, "leave personal things like watches, jewellery and especially cell phones in your locker or car". (You’re there, to get the most out of your workout-after all, you are paying for this time).

§  Respect the fact that many others in the gym are not beginners, avoid tying up the machines or dumbbells by sitting or resting on them for extended periods, other athletes may need the use of the equipment also.

§  Avoid wearing offensive colognes or perfumes at your gym, bring a towel if your training hard and sweating, to wipe-off the equipment as you’re finished.

§  If you see others using the equipment or the area you wish to: ask politely if you can work-in with them, you will probably find like anything, good manners - get good results.

Safety precaution: as a beginner, be honest and realistic with your conditioning level? Each person's body is their own, know your limits and train within it.

If unsure; always check with your health care provider and see what he or she has to say about starting a new weight training routine. 

Beginners Weight Training and Common Mistakes

Signs of lifting to heavy:

  • lack of exercise control.
  • Repetition base is too low, (under 8 reps).
  • Swinging and heaving the weight’s using momentum does not result in faster size and strength gains, more commonly seen is injury.

Sometimes it’s the opposite for females: not using enough weight, being paranoid of becoming to muscular and losing your femininity, is unrealistic. This only happens if you’re on a serious drug program and lifting excessive  poundage’s, even then the size you'd gain would be very minimal.

Taking long rests well in excess of two minutes is counter productive. Rest between sets should be from one - one and half minutes, depending on current level of conditioning. (Just don’t allow yourself to cool down between sets).

the opposite can also pertain: if you’re moving to the next set in less than 30 seconds this can also be counter productive. If your body is not given enough time to re-oxygenate and remove enough lactic waste as you start the next set... workout fatigue may set-in to early.

Beginners weight training routine

Be aware in your beginners weight training routine of rep and set ranges. Don’t try to move through the workout too quickly or too slow, keep a steady pace, challenge yourself and keep close tabs on your fatigue levels.

Often overlooked in a solid beginners weight training routine is:

The warm-up:

The warm-up can consist of anything from  5 - 8 minutes on a stationary bike, tread mill, or elliptical machine this could also include calisthenics or aerobics - anything that makes you pant a little, (keep in mind it's just a warm-up)

  • This sets the mental and physical tone and energy levels for the workout.
  •  Opens up the sweat glands activating your bodies radiator.
  • Oxygenates the brain and readies the muscles and tendons for anaerobic training. 
  • The warm-up keeps us injury free and gives us the most from the workout, try not to "overlook its importance".

As beginners, keep the focus mostly on free weight compound exercise movements. Meaning: two or more muscles come into play to assist in the lift, we'll go into this more further down.

Breaking the body down into upper and lower:

As beginners splitting your workouts into upper body on one day and lower on the next, produces good results.

Let's Start Your Beginners Weight Training Routine Off With Monday...Upper Body

Perform your first set with half your normal weight for 10 repetitions to get the muscles and tendons of the chest and shoulders warmed up.

Most of the exercises shown here are compound in nature, with a few exceptions. These exercises are universal meaning: from beginner to advanced everyone uses them at different phases in there training. 

These are the ultimate exercises for building strength, stamina and coordination while producing great overall conditioning results.

Starting with flat barbell bench press for the Chest:

Sets 2

Repetitions 10 -12, with a weight that challenges you to get no more or less, than the reps mentioned.

This exercise: focuses primarily on the mid-pectoral muscles, triceps and front shoulders. Move the bar at a medium speed, controlling the resistance throughout the exercise-touching the chest at the bottom while contracting at the top.

Barbell bench press

Note: as with all upper and lower body exercises In any beginner's weight training routine keep in mind, if you begin to experience boredom in the 4th or 5th week: Mix the exercises up, e.g...

Start with shoulders or arms instead of chest, or start at the back of the workout and work to the front, or start in the middle and workout towards the other exercises listed.

To be dynamic is to continuously change and challenge yourself every day.  before long, you will see changes on your body you wouldn't have believed could happen - and before long you'll be challenging yourself at the intermediate level.

Incline dumbbell presses:

Sets 1 - 2

Reps 10 - 12, adjust dumbbells as needed to stay in this rep and set range indicated.

This exercise: Strengthens and increases upper chest development, while secondary stimulation can be felt in the front shoulders and triceps.

Beginners incline dumbbell press

Flat bench DB flyes:

Sets 1 - 2

Reps 10 - 12, adjust dumbbell size to stay in this rep range.

Flyes: are a pulling movement for the chest, and differs from other traditional pressing exercises. This exercises mechanics allow for a deep stretch, pick lighter dumbbells to start with - try to preform with elbows locked as shown, from a deep stretch with a momentary contraction at the top.

Flat bench DB flyes

Upper arms the Biceps

Wide grip barbell curls:

Sets 2

Reps 10 - 12, adjust, bar/plate weight to stay in this rep range.

The curl: is another pulling exercise for biceps/lower back, standing with arms out- stretched, pulling the weight up staying 6-8 inches away from the chest while pausing for a momentary contraction at the top. Note: If your back is bending as you lift - you probably need too reduce resistance. 

Wide grip barbell curls

Alternating Dumbbell hammer curls:

Sets 1- 2

Reps 8 - 10, adjusting dumbbells to stay in this rep range.

This exercise: is a classic biceps movement that isolates the outside of the biceps; with arms outstretched lift the dumbbells alternately in a hammer style, bringing the biceps up close to the shoulders-give a small contraction then release to the start.   

Hammer curls

Rear of upper arms the Triceps

Triceps extensions (skull crushers):

Sets 1 -2

Reps 10 - 12, start light with this exercise because of its nature.

Extensions: are both a pull and push motion for the triceps/shoulders, starting with a deep stretch as shown, keep the elbows in a locked position move the weight-up until it is even with the forehead, contract momentarily then release back to start under control.  

Beginners triceps extensions

Narrow grip bench press:

Sets 1 - 2

Reps 8 - 10, go slow and focus on the movement, not speed.

This exercise: consists of a (narrow grip), for chest/shoulder/triceps, (Hands 5-6 inches apart, keeping resistance light in the beginning). Lower the weight to bottom of the chest and push backup under control to the start for a momentary contraction of the pectorals on each repetition.

Narrow grip press beginners

Upper Back beginners weight training

Bent over barbell rows:

Sets 1 - 2

Reps 8 to 10, don’t lift excessively heavy, use good judgment and form.

This exercise: stimulates the lower and upper back/biceps/traps, assume a bent over heads-up position with a barbell held at as arms length; pull the resistance up to the upper abdominal's and pause, release the weight back to start and repeat, maintaining good form and control though-out the exercise. 

Beginners  bent over barbell rows

LAT machine pull-down's:

Sets 1 - 2

Reps 8 - 10, this is an easier exercise, try to feel the muscles of the upper back working on each rep, setting resistance to complete the rep range.

This exercise: is a traditional pulling back exercise, stimulating upper back/biceps/traps. maintain a 3-4 inch past shoulder width grip, pull the lat bar to the top of the chest - hold momentarily then release to the start, maintain a smooth controlled effort. 

Beginner's LAT pull-down's

shoulder exercises

Seated dumbbell presses works Shoulders and Traps:

Sets 1 - 2 

Reps 8 - 10, select appropriately weighted dumbbells for your athletic level, to achieve your rep range.

This exercise: has simple mechanics of pressing, using a bench with a good back support, start with dumbbells lightly touching the shoulders, begin pressing simultaneously to the top-overhead as shown, return to start and repeat. Always use smooth, uniform-control in all shoulder exercises.

Seated dumbbell press

Note: keep in mind in the beginner's weight training routine as mentioned; as you begin to feel fatigue and weariness from the exercises, it's time to consider tossing in the towel and calling it a day!

The repetitions and exercises are geared around compound movements. These are demanding in the beginning until you become conditioned, stay focused and always adjust the weight to your lifting level.

When you're first starting you may only want to attempt one set of each exercise around the 4 to 5 week mark, look to add another set to each of the exercises you feel strong in, and re-challenge yourself.

This article does not cover core and abdominal training, beginners weight training is specific to this page; if you would like to know some beginner ab exercises, follow this link...

I would suggest if you want to train your core/midsection, I would do it on an alternate day from your weight training or preform them as your warm-up.

Have at least one day off between workouts. The muscles need this time to heal and recuperate for the next workout, the next workout will be when feel you’re ready.

If you would like to perform your next training session on Wednesday or Thursday, that’s fine.

If you’re a complete beginner two times a week, if you’re serious about your training should allow you to see noticeable body and strength gains - over the next following months.

If you choose Thursday as your next workout day then let’s focus on the lower body.

Before you start, again: let’s spend 5 to 8 minutes warming up

Leg Day

As beginners, try not to fall into a rut like some do - by not training the lower body. The lower body is our only mode of transportation. It’s equally as important as any other upper body parts.

leg extensions leg day

Upper Legs, Rear Leg Biceps

Standing dumbbell stiff leg dead-lifts:

Sets 1 - 2

Reps 8 - 10, use light dumbbells to get the hamstring muscles used to this exercise.

This exercise: stretches the back and upper legs, building strength in the rear upper legs, lower and upper back and arms, this a great classic compound movement.

DB stiff legged deadlifts

lying leg curls:

Sets 1 - 2 

Reps 10 - 12 , adjust resistance to attain the desired amount of repetitions.

This exercise: isolates the the (hamstrings or rear leg biceps), keep the movement slow and deliberate while contracting at the top of each repetition while lowering into a deep stretch at the bottom of the exercise.

Illustrating lying leg curls

Fronts of upper legs, the quadriceps.

Smith machine squats:


Reps 10 - 12, set  resistance to be easily handled to attain the given repetitions in the beginning.

This exercise: squats are a classic compound exercise, this movement stimulates the big muscles of the Quadriceps - keep feet out slightly from the hips, 8 to 10 in. apart, lower to parallel with floor as shown then return to start.

Smith machine squats

leg extensions:

Sets 1 - 2

Rep 10 - 12 keep the resistance adjusted to challenge yourself.

This exercise: isolates the Quads specifically; as shown keep the movements slow and deliberate while contracting at the top of each repetition, you should feel this exercise in the lower part of the Quads.

Beginners leg extensions

Calf Exercises

Dumbbell calf raises

Standing calf raises:

Sets - 1

Reps 10 - 12, move through this exercise slowly keeping tension on the calf muscles, lowering all the way down for a nice stretch and pushing back up to feel your calf muscles flexing, this is an easy exercise and produces great calf muscle toning results.

Now it's time for a few days off to let everything rest and recuperate. Well done, prepare for next week.

Summarizing the beginners weight training routine:

A good beginners weight training routine also needs a healthy diet. weight training at any level is demanding, this effort stimulates active tissue - which raises calorie and nutrient demand; in other words (eating regularly and healthy) should be at the top of any beginners weight training routine.

Stay hydrated, hard weight training workouts can be demanding on many levels of our bodies, often the afternoon doldrums and yawning can be curbed by staying hydrated.

If you drink only when you’re thirsty, especially when you’re working out, this is usually an indication that you’re re-hydrating too late.

As beginners it’s also recommended: before you start any beginners weight training routine: have a friend take a few photos of you in different positions, preferably in shorts/bathing suit, in a few different places with different lighting, write on these pictures - the day you started.

Also include with these pictures what your plan was when you started and how you want to achieve your new physique goal. Every few months add something to this little journal or portfolio and re-modify your goal as time passes, if need be.

With your Beginner’s weight training routine, it almost doesn’t matter what you do as long you apply some effort in the gym two or three times a week. You are going to see substantial changes. So... good luck and keep at it and always feel free to come visit or ask questions. 


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